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Company: Analogue Systems
Released: 2000
Price: £750

The Sorceror is part of the RS Integrator modular synthesizer made by Analogue Systems. It consists of a forty-nine note keyboard and joystick (available separately as The Demon) with enough space above it for 168HP's worth of modules (also available as a separate rack, as The Apprentice), all housed in a beautiful American walnut casing.

First off, HP is a method of measuring the width of modules. 168HP is the equivalent of 6U's worth of rackmounted gear (modern modules are nearly always 3U high, and a nineteen inch rack is 84HP wide). The majority of the Integrator modules are 12HP wide, so you can fit fourteen of them in this keyboard, give or take a few particularly wide or narrow ones. That's a healthy number to start exploring the world of modular synthesizers with.

It comes with appropriate power supply boards to power not only the company's own Integrator modules, but also up to six modules from Doepfer's A-100 and Analogue Solutions's Concussor, so you can mix and match modules from all three systems.

What it doesn't come with is any actual modules. The Sorceror is just a keyboard, a joystick, and a case. On its own, it isn't capable of actually producing any sounds at all. Taking this into consideration, the price tag is a bit heavy for what is essentially a controller keyboard and a tilted rack.

Surprisingly, the keyboard has MIDI in, out and through sockets as well as the expected CV and gate outputs. Unfortunately, according to the Electronic Musician review, the Sorceror was a bit sluggish when responding to MIDI input. This isn't too good, because according to the Sound On Sound review, the built-in keyboard isn't velocity or aftertouch sensitive, despite the panel next to it having outputs for both of these. So you have to either use an external controller, which will cause a small amount of slackness and somewhat defy the point of buying the Sorceror in the first place, or you can use the main keyboard and forget any desire for velocity or aftertouch sensitivity. Admittedly, traditional modular synthesizers of the past managed just fine without such luxuries, but it means you have outputs that you'll never use. While this isn't the end of the world, it seems a bit odd.

Having said all that, the Sorceror is pretty much a unique instrument right now: once filled with modules, it becomes a fully self-contained modular synthesizer complete with built-in keyboard. Compared with metal rackmounts full of modules controlled by an external keyboard, it is truly a thing of beauty.

References

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